Congratulations are in order for 2013 draft pick Kohl Stewart, who stomped over Jose Berrios and Lewis Thorpe to earn the organization's #5 prospect ranking with 78% of the vote. While Alex Meyer has ace material, some pundits believe his ceiling is a number two...while Stewart's ceiling is a true number one. That's exciting to hear, but the prep pick is still years away from making an impact with the Twins, which could be what hurt his value in our voting so far. He'll definitely be watched closely in 2014.
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With Berrios facing his first full-length season as a professional, he understandably slowed a bit at the end of the season. In spite of that he still put forward a pretty solid season for a 19-year old at Single-A. This season will be very telling, as it's likely that he'll spend most (if not all) of his season with Fort Myers; some pundits thought he projected as a reliever when he was drafted, yet the Twins will continue to use him as a starter until he proves he can't be effective doing it. Can he continue to strike batters out at an above average rate and can he continue to be an efficient and productive starter? Let's find out.
Lewis Thorpe, LHP 2014 Age: 18 2013 High Level: GCL Twins, 44.0 IP (Rookie)
It might seem a bit premature to throw international signing Lewis Thorpe into the voting fray so early, but we're doing it. In spite of his age, in spite of his distance from the Majors, in spite of his small sample size, Thorpe absolutely dominated with the GCL Twins in eight starts and four relief appearances. The Twins will no doubt keep him in rookie ball this season, possibly with Elizabethton, but another blistering performance like this might tempt the Twins into seeing how he does in Cedar Rapids at the end of the season. Scouts mostly seem to think he has mid-rotation upside, but it's easy to dream on the Australian 17-year old lefty with amazing strikeout rates.
Getting his time in September has helped Pinto to retain his prospect status, which is something he's guaranteed to lose this year. He positively raked in his cup of coffee (.342/.398/.566), getting everyone excited about the future of the catcher position. Joe Mauer's permanent move to first base solidifies his role as one of the Twins' catchers in 2014, at least right away, and depending on his performance he could earn an everyday job before season's end. That's the best-case scenario, however, and is more unlikely than we'd like it to be.
Jorge Polanco, SS/2B 2014 Age: 20 2013 High Level: Cedar Rapids, 523 PA (Single-A)
Polanco's age relative to his level of competition is as much of a reason for excitement as is his production on its own. After struggling in Rookie leagues as a 16 and 17-year old, the last two years have been a revelation and have helped to reveal why the Twins liked him as a kid in his mid-teens out of the Dominican Republic. Another fantastic season could see him continue to climb the organizational ladder, and if he starts the season at Fort Myers and plays well it's not out of the question that he finishes his summer at Double-A Fort Myers. Before we get too excited though, let's see where the Twins place him to start the season and then actually wait to see if he continues to be as outstanding of a hitter as he's been the last two years.
Felix Jorge, RHP 2014 Age: 20 2013 High Level: Elizabethton, 61 IP (Rookie)
I was going to wait another round or two to add Jorge, but after the discussions we've had here and considering how highly BP ranked him in their list, it's certainly possible he merits more consideration than I was giving him. With 12 strong starts under his belt in E-Town this season, Jorge will be pushed ahead to Cedar Rapids this summer and we'll see how his great arm deals with not just better hitters but with a full season. Berrios tired a bit in 2013, and the same is virtually guaranteed to happen to Jorge or any pitcher coming off of a short season. The question is: how will he handle it?
Max Kepler, CF 2014 Age: 21 2013 High Level: Cedar Rapids, 263 PA (Single-A)
Kepler was slow out of the gate due to a late start, and he never really picked up a lot of steam. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League anyway, where he played first base but continued to struggle against, admittedly, elite-level competition. The tools are all there, and as an athlete he appears to rank very well in each of the five tool categories even if none of them are 70s or 80s on the 20-80 scale. At 21 this coming season I think the Twins are going to start looking for him to put up numbers to match his potential. There's a lot of good upside with Kepler, which is why the team added him to the 40-man roster this week. Hopefully we can see that talent play out in on-the-field production this season.
Who ranks as the sixth-best prospect in the Twins' system for 2014?
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